Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story contained a misidentified picture of Cleatus Lebow. The error has been corrected.
AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — Officials with the Texas Panhandle War Memorial Center announced that Cleatus Lebow, a local survivor of the sinking of the USS Indianapolis in World War II, died late last month in Amarillo. Services will be hosted Sunday afternoon in Memphis.
According to a release from the center, Lebow, who grew up in Abernathy, died Thursday in Amarillo at the age of 98. Lebow was assigned to the USS Indianapolis CA-35 in January 1944 after joining the navy, helping the ship earn seven of its 10 battle stars during World War II. During his time on the ship, Lebow served as a fire controlman technician and a petty officer third class, working as a gunnery range-finder for various battles including Iwo Jima and the pre-bombardment of Okinawa.
According to the release, Lebow, along with 316 others, survived the sinking of the USS Indianapolis in July 1945 after it was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine. Lebow spent five days and four nights in the Pacific Ocean before being rescued. Lebow was presented with a Purple Heart after being rescued, along with the rest of the crew. The crew also was awarded a Congressional Gold Medal on the 75th anniversary of the event in 2020.
After the war, the release said Lebow worked for the telephone company in Abernathy, working in various locations in that field for 35 years. After he retired in Memphis, he became “an integral member” of the USS Indianapolis Survivors Organization.
According to the release, services will be hosted at 3 p.m. Sunday at Fairview Cemetery in Memphis.